The curtain fell on the 9th Monaco Optimist Team Race organised by the Yacht Club de Monaco with support from FxPro, Eventica, Fonand clothing supplier SLAM. For YCM General Secretary, Bernard d’Alessandri, it was an event “that kicked-off the new year in style and gave the youngest an opportunity to show-off their talent as racers.”
Sixty-four contestants divided into 16 teams from 16 nations put on a show in the main harbour, Port Hercule, amidst the yachts. An original match race for under-14s, it promotes team-work and hosts the most competitive clubs, with Oman Sails making its first appearance along with a group from the Punta del Este Yacht Club in Uruguay, and national teams from Austria, The Netherlands, Belgium and Norway.
Match races for teams of four Optimists tested the technical, tactical and team spirit qualities to the limit, with 150 races completed in light winds, with no respite during the war of nerves that competitors were engaged in.
Turks pull off a surprise
In the final few hours it was all change at the top of a leaderboard dominated for the last three days by the Swedes from KSSS, current European Team Racing Champions. It was another Scandinavian team who chased them off the podium’s top step to win the event, the Finns from Helsingfors Segelklubb HSK. “We were really surprised to win,” said Ellen, one of the team. “We didn’t expect it at all, particularly given the high level. Also, for two of us it was our last Optimist regatta, so it was the best way to say goodbye to this class.”
But it was the Turkish team from the ARM Urla Sailing Club who pulled off the biggest surprise, clawing their way back up the table to finish 2nd. It was a big disappointment for the KSSS team who ended 3rd, followed by the Belgians in 4th just ahead of the Monegasque team of Lucas Frederiksen, Mathieu Choquet, François Lamy and Leonardo Bonelli, who fell at the fence in the semi-finals to the Turkish team.
In the name of performance
Prior to the regatta, youngsters from Monaco, Russia, Croatia and Uruguay benefited from two intensive days of training at an International Clinic run by Chris Atkins, World Sailing’s world-renowned Team Race specialist. It was an opportunity to get professional advice in their preparations for the matches ahead. “It’s great to see these sailors, who may be very young but have nothing to envy of older more experienced sailors. They are competitive, they didn’t let go until the end, they just wanted to learn. When you love passing on your passion, it’s the best audience you could have,” concluded the pro, delighted to be at the YCM again. A sentiment shared by Alfredo Ricci, PRO and Team Race specialist, “The level is there, the concentration also, and the conditions allowed sailors to compete hard in terms of strategy and control. Here’s to the next edition which will the 10th anniversary of this meeting.”
They created a buzz
For the first time since the launch of this event, the YCM set-up a competition aimed at rewarding contestants’ enthusiasm on social networks (Facebook and Instagram), with support from Optimist and Catamaran designer-builders Erplast. Congratulations to the Belgian team who distinguished themselves in this initiative.
In the name of sport
During the prize-giving, small “White Cards” were given to all competitors by Peace and Sport representatives. It is a symbol of peace and purity as opposed to the red card so widely used in sport and synonymous with serious misconduct. “Sport is not just about competition,” notes Joel Bouzou, President and Founder of Peace and Sport. “It’s also about exchanges. That’s why sport has this ability to attract crowds all over the world. In this sense, sport is a fantastic tool for promoting peace”.
Meanwhile, there is no let up for the Yacht Club de Monaco as it prepares for Act VI of the Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series, 19-21 January with the J/70 class taking centre stage.
Final rankings Monaco Optimist Team Race:
1st: Helsingfors Segelklubb HSK, (FIN)
2nd: ARM Urla Sailing Club, (TUR)
3rd: KSSS – Royal Swedish Yacht Club, (SWE)